Titus and I attended the annual Shepherds Conference at the beginning of March this year, and as always, it was highly fruitful and left us with many things to discuss. The first of which is fellowship.
The first day of the conference always starts the same way, with cars filling the parking lot and standing in the registration line. While some would say lines are horrific and a sign of the end times, most participants use this time to fellowship. It is funny that we attend this conference every year, and every year Titus and I always discuss the fellowship. Like all other ShepCon’s that have come before, Titus and I attended this year’s conference with a long-time brother and mentor in Christ, Roy. Since moving to Idaho, the three of us do not have as many opportunities to discuss the things of the Lord; if only someone would invent a device to communicate across state lines. Yeah Yeah, I know what your thinking….Letter writing and the U.S. Postal system, but I digress (Pun always intended). This year was like all others, filled with fellowship, whether between us three or random conversations that were struck up waiting in the many lines strung throughout the campus of GCC.
Here is one particular instance of fellowship that stuck out the most. Titus and I were enjoying a morning snack. I had just picked up a book I was reading, “The Loveliest Place,” when Micah came walking by. He noticed the book and stopped in his tracks. Micah began talking to me, and I stood up to greet him. He told me how much he loved the book, and we began to talk a bit. As we discussed this book, I brought up another I had read before, “Gentle and Lowly.” He grabbed my shoulder and just looked at me, and I knew what it meant. He, too, had been changed by both books. It was at that moment that he grabbed my name tag and looked at my name, then he looked at Titus’ name, and we all smiled, and I responded with, “Strong biblical names are present in this conversation,” we all laughed for a moment and then, Micah was off. I had never met Micah before that day, but because we had gathered at a place where “we had all things in common,” there was an instant brotherhood and friendship. Titus and I would see Micah every day during the conference, at times trading a smile and other times a friendly word. Titus and I sat back down as Roy walked up, and we shared with him what had just taken place, and he understood the significance of it all. Titus, Roy, and I would fellowship many times during the conference and discuss many deep Theological topics with the occasional joke, or was it many jokes with a rare deep Theological topic? Who knows, but we did fellowship and discuss the things of the Lord, which was priceless.
As Day One continued, all three of us made it to a general session where we had the pleasure of listening to a sermon preached by Josiah Grauman. He preached on the book of Zephaniah. He presented many nuggets throughout his session, but one that stuck with me was, “Christ saved His bride from the Wrath to come.” The instruction and teaching here always give Titus and me something to discuss. After he concluded his message, I couldn’t stop thinking about my son getting married soon. I conversed with Titus and Roy about how and why this message resonated powerfully.
Most of Zephaniah describes, in detail, the wrath of Godpoured out. However, chapter three, verses fourteen through twenty, discuss that Jesus took away the wrath to come. The love that Christ shows for His bride is the love that every husband is to show toward his wife. This sacrificial love shown is like no other. It is incredible and, at the same time, terrifying. Why? Because as husbands, we are commanded to show it(Ephesians 5:25), to demonstrate the love of Christ toward our wife, as He demonstrated His love for Church (His bride) and gave Himself up for it. This sermon floored me. I could not stop thinking about this sermon as Titus, Roy, and I drove to dinner and then back to our Air BnB. The thoughts of being a husband myself continued to flow through my mind. How I constantly lean on the Lord to obey this command. How at times, I fall flat on my face in disobedience to Ephesians 5:25. These thoughts were followed by being a father to a young man who will be married in April of 2023. These questions continued to present themselves to me: Did I raise him in the instruction of the Lord? Did he witness me demonstrate the Love of Christ toward his mother regularly? As I meditated on the sermon, the terror of those outside the Love of Christ came crashing in about how they would experience the wrath described in this book. At this point, I became overwhelmed by everything I had heard and experienced that day and realized I had two more days of fellowship, instruction, and teaching. When writing this, I had planned to discuss days two and three, but for the sake of length, I have decided to save days two and three for another post. For now, I’ll move on to the final point of discussion
The day after the conference concluded, Titus and I sat in the back of our Uber ride to breakfast and discussed the things that took place during the Shepherds Conference. Every yearone of the fascinating themes present is faithfulness. The dedication these faithful men demonstrate, rightly dividing the Word of God, is extraordinary. Whether it is the keynote speakers of the day or those teaching the breakout session, without hesitation or falter, they uphold the apostolic teachings of the Apostles and early church fathers. For nine years, Titus and I have been attending this conference, and the biblical scholars of the day, have faithfully covered topics stretching from the “Inerrancy of Scripture” to “The Spiritual Deception of Wokeness.” At the same time, the themes and topics of the conference change yearly, and the faithfulness used by these men to cover those topics do not, which is enough to bring Titus and me back every year. Just like Titus and I, men worldwide gather for worship, fellowship, and instruction at the Shepherds Conference every year, and just like us, one of the drawing factors of their return is the faithfulness of the men of God appointed to divide the Word of God rightly. If you are a pastor/elder, I highly recommend attending this fantastic conference next year, March 6-8, to be fed and blessed like all those before you.